Do You Know 11 Steps to Responsible Pet Ownership?

February is Responsible Pet Owners’ Month

We love to look at special days, weeks and months for ideas about celebrations.  And we are delighted to learn that February is Responsible Pet Owners’ Month. Really, every day should be responsible pet owners’ day and we are sharing the 11 qualities we believe demonstrate responsible pet ownership.

Beau joined us at our fav restaurant during his final week

Beau joined us at our fav restaurant during his final week

 

11 Steps to Responsible Pet Ownership

  1. Learn all you can about the dog or cat breed you are considering adopting.
  2. Make a commitment to your pet for life.
  3. Have your pet micro-chipped and affix current ID tags to your pets’ collars.  Always make sure they are wearing their ID tags when they go outside of your home.
  4. Get your dog or cat spayed or neutered.
  5. Train your pet.
  6. Exercise your pet’s body and mind every day.
  7. Feed your pet the best quality food you can afford.
  8. Get regular veterinary care for your pet.
  9. Brush your pet’s teeth every day.
  10. Make adequate arrangements for your pets’ care when you go out of town.
  11. Learn pet first aid and CPR.

 

How These Steps Contribute to Responsible Pet Ownership

Learn all you can about the dog or cat breed you are considering adopting.

Knowledge of the needs of the pet you want will help to assure a good match between the pet and your household. You need to know the most typical health conditions of the breed, how much exercise is required and if you are able to provide that type and frequency of exercise. For instance, you need to select a veterinarian that can provide care for the pet you want. If you are considering adopting a bird, is there an avian specialist veterinarian nearby? What are the nutritional needs of the pet you want? What type of training is needed? And remember, it is really you who needs the training!!!

We strongly support pet adoption.  According to the US Humane Society, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year.  These are pets that were surrendered by owners, dumped, or found stray.  If you adopt a pet, you save his or her life and make room in the shelter for another pet. If you buy a pet from an on line ad you are contributing to puppy mills.  We adopted our Daisy Mae through National Brittany and Adoption Network (NBRAN).  She helped our hearts to heal after Beau went over the Rainbow Bridge from lymphoma.   Yes, adopting a pet can put a smile on your face.

Frightened Daisy Mae at the shelter

Frightened Daisy Mae at the shelter

 

One Happy Daisy Mae on a boat ride

One Happy Daisy Mae on a boat ride

Don’t worry, her life jacket was in the boat!!

Make a commitment to your pet for life.
Enough Said

Enough Said

Rita Reimers, noted cat analyst has written a heartfelt blog about people dumping their cats.

Have your pet micro-chipped and affix current ID tags to your pets’ collars.  Always make sure they are wearing their ID tags when they go outside of your home.

Approximately 15% of pet owners report having lost a pet within a five year period of time according to a recent ASPCA study.  ID tags and microchips were important in getting 15% of the lost dogs home.  It’s important for ID tags to have the owners’ cell phone number as well as the number of another emergency contact.  If there is enough room on the tag you can add the land line number and if comfortable with it the home address.  Be sure to update the information if you move or get a new phone number. And, please register the microchip information with the microchip company….otherwise it is useless!

Get your dog or cat spayed or neutered.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

Every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are euthanized. The good news is that responsible pet owners can make a difference. By having your dog or cat sterilized, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens. Spaying and neutering prevent unwanted litters and may reduce many of the behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct.

Train your pets.

A study done by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) and published on PetFinder’s website indicated that 96% of the dogs relinquished to shelters had received no training.  There are some basics that are essential to a happy relationship between you and your dog.  These include potty and crate training, and the cues for sit, stay, down, off, drop it, leave it and come.  For fun you can always add in tricks such as roll over and high five! We heartily recommend positive reinforcement training. If you need a trainer locally we are pleased to recommend Donna Rogers with K-9 Capers Dog Training Academy in Concord and Sara Higgins with Positive Pups Dog Training, LLC in Cornelius.

What about training for your cat or bird?  Yes, you read right.  Pets Web MD offers great tips for training your kitten or cat to use the litter box. The Partnership for Animal Welfare offers tips on teaching your cat to use a scratching post. Many years ago while still working as a social worker one of my clients told me he had trained his cat to walk on a leash. I was pretty astounded at the time, but have since learned it is a valuable skill.  Mother Nature Network offers some tips on helping you and kitty acquire this skill.

Pet MD offers tips for training your pet bird.  Multiple issues are also common to other species: biting, screaming (barking), grooming, using treats, chewing on furniture and traveling.  We got a laugh about talking birds and their sometimes unsavory vocabularies!

Exercise your pet’s body and mind every day.

All pets need physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis.  You can play games indoors with your kitties to engage them and keep them on the move. Of course, we know that dogs need time for sniffing walks when they can check and deposit “pee mail.”  A good generalization is that most dogs need at least 2 walks of 15 minutes duration every day.  The specifics will depend on your dog’s breed, general health and temperament and age.  If you don’t have time to walk with your dog on a regular basis, consider hiring a professional dog walker several days per week or even daily if your budget allows.  Having a variety of places to walk with a variety of sights and smells will enrich your dog’s life.  On those days that the weather makes long walks out of doors unsafe, play some mental games inside. Nose work inside is particularly effective.

Feed your pet the best quality food you can afford.

Remember not to overfeed your pets either. Pet obesity has become a huge problem in the US. It’s best to feed your pets at certain times of the day so you can easily assess how much they are eating.  An added benefit is if they eat on a regular schedule they will be more likely to eliminate on a regular schedule. Leaving dry kibble down for cats is discouraged too because they benefit from eating canned food.  Cats tend not to drink enough water so they need the hydration from canned or “wet” foods.  Lisa A. Pierson, DVM offers an excellent explanation of these facts.

Get regular veterinary care for your pet.

In general pets need to be assessed by their veterinarian on at least a yearly basis.  Puppies and kittens as well as senior pets need to be evaluated more frequently.  And of course, pets with chronic medical conditions need more frequent monitoring.

Regular checkups include examining the ears, eyes, nose, abdominal organs, skin and fur and heart and lungs.  This is also the time for vaccination protocols, heartworm preventative medications and lab work. It is much easier on the pet to prevent a problem than to treat a problem.  And we might add, less expensive. We fostered to adopt Trooper through English Springer Spaniel Rescue America (ESRA) and he came to us Heartworm positive.  It was heartbreaking having to keep him quiet during the months of treatment.

Trooper

Trooper

 Brush your pet’s teeth every day.

Yes, you can and should do this.  It’s easier if you start when a puppy, but they can learn to accept it at any age.  just be sure to use toothpaste made for dogs and cats, not the human kind.  Human toothpaste has soap in it to make it sudsy and that’s not good for our pets because they can’t spit it out. Experiment until you find the flavor they like (vanilla, mint, chicken, beef).  There are a variety of types of toothbrushes too, so keep at it until you find the right one.  I brush our dogs’ teeth multiple times per week and we are going to be able to skip dental cleanings this year.  That is not only a financial savings but we’re so relieved not to have anyone put under anesthesia.

Just as with humans, there is a link between good oral health and good general health.  Dogs with proper dental care live on average two years longer than those without proper dental care. Luke is almost 9 years old and is an old hand at getting his teeth brushed.  Daisy Mae and Trooper are mildly resistant (we adopted them) but they are getting better at accepting it.

Luke

Luke

Make adequate arrangements for your pets’ care when you go out of town.

In today’s world we have numerous options for pet care when we are unavailable.  Options include friends or family members, in home pet boarding, pet kenneling and professional pet sitting in your home. We recommend against the use of the kid next door at any time.  While family and friends may work out some of the time, it can become an awkward situation if you ask them too often.  It’s important to avoid the “hobby sitters” who do this to pick up “pin money.”  They are extremely unlikely to be bonded, to carry professional business liability insurance, to have a criminal background check, to be trained in pet first aid and CPR and to be available long term when the novelty of “playing” with dogs and cats has worn off.

If the cost is an issue and you only have one pet you may be well served with a good boarding or kenneling facility.  If you have two pets your costs between a professional pet sitter and a facility will be similar.  If you have three or more pets or pets of multiple species you will most likely find a professional pet sitter who provides care in your home to be most cost effective.  While many pets do well in a boarding facility, most thrive in their own familiar homes.  A professional pet sitter will be able to give your home that lived in look with rotation of lights and draperies, mail and newspaper collection, roll out of garbage and recycle containers and watering a few houseplants.

Two professional pet sitters organizations offer user friendly pet sitter locator services: Pet Sitters International (PSI) and National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS).

Learn pet first aid and CPR.

No one wants to encounter an emergency, but we all know urgent issues happen every day.  It’s a good idea to take a class in pet first aid and CPR. There are numerous options available.  Billy has been trained by two organizations.  After we were both trained in the PetSaver program by Pet Tech last October we were both so impressed with the program that he took the training to become a trainer. He offers the courses approximately 8 times per year.

Learn about PetTech at this link.  See Billy’s instructor profile at this link.



 

Thanks for taking the necessary steps toward responsible pet ownership!!!

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About Beth Harwell

Beth Leatherman Harwell and her husband, Billy Harwell own and operate a local pet sitting business, Dog Walkers & More at Coddle Creek, LLC. Beth and Billy take care of your dogs, cats, birds, fish and small caged pets in the comfort of your own home. Services are provided in Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Mt. Ulla, NC.
Beth is a retired clinical social worker turned business owner. She blogs about pet care needs and the human animal bond.
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Comments

  1. Hey, very nice blog!! Man … Beautiful. Amazing. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

  2. I did not realize that you should brush your pets teeth every day. Because there are dental bones for dogs, do you feel that is most effective. Thanks for your response.

    • Hi Paige,
      I apologize for the delay in responding to your question. Definitely brushing is better, but dental chews are better than no effort. Some pets do not digest the chews very well and that has to be carefully monitored. It’s important when brushing their teeth to use a toothpaste designed for dogs. They swallow the toothpaste and can not handle some of the ingredients in human toothpaste.
      Thanks for your question.

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